Roundup of Legislation, including MPA-related bills

by: Staff May 18, 2015


The Missouri General Assembly adjourned Friday, May 15, after a bizarre session that began January 7.

The year 2015 will be remembered in Jefferson City for opening day in the Missouri Senate when Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder was forced to delay the proceedings as a large, vocal group of protesters caused havoc and ultimately was escorted from the galleries by law enforcement. Members of the group held signs and chanted for expansion of Medicaid and called for action in wake of the riots last summer in Ferguson, Mo.

2015 will also be remembered as the year State Auditor Tom Schweich and his public information assistant Spence Jackson died as a result of separate suicides, when then-Speaker of the House, John Diehl, resigned in disgrace on the last day of the session and was replaced by new Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), when passage of a Right-To-Work bill shut down the Missouri Senate for much of the last week of the session, and when dozens of bills were introduced, relating to the tragedy last summer in Ferguson, but did not cross the finish line. Below is a list of how some major legislation fared in the Missouri Legislature, with thanks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and its reporters Alex Stuckey and Virginia Young.

A few bills, either supported or opposed by Missouri Press Association, are noted in the list. Overall, it was a good year for the MPA. If you have any questions about MPA-related legislation in Jefferson City, please contact Doug Crews, MPA executive director, at dcrews@socket.net.

PASSED AND SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

Foundation formula • Puts an additional $84 million into the fund for public K-12 schools. (HB2)

Higher education • Increases funding for public higher education institutions by $12 million based on performance. (HB3)

Managed care • Expands Medicaid managed care to 200,000 parents and children, continuing to exempt the elderly and disabled. (HB3)

Dairy subsidies • Helps dairy farmers pay premiums on federal insurance for their operations. (SB12)

Tax amnesty • Waives interest, fees and other penalties for those who pay back taxes this fall. (HB384)

Data storage centers • Exempts some data storage centers from paying taxes on equipment, utilities and machinery. (SB149)

Medical malpractice • Caps most noneconomic awards at $400,000 and catastrophic cases such as paralysis, loss of vision or brain injury at $700,000. (SB239)

VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR

Unemployment • Cuts benefits to as low as 13 weeks from the current 20 weeks, linked to the statewide average unemployment rate. (HB 150)

ENACTED OVER VETO

Welfare • Shortens the time a parent could receive federal welfare benefits to three years and nine months, down from five years, and penalizes those who skip job training and community service assignments. (SB24)

PASSED


Competitive bidding • The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is granted an exemption from open records law in Chapter 610 for financial documents, leases, and specified contracts involving convention centers owned by the municipality in order to prevent unfair competition in bidding for projects. The closed records do not apply to professional sports franchise agreements. The amendment closing the records was opposed by the Missouri Press Association. (HB137)

Missouri Official Manual (Blue Book) • $75,000 was appropriated to the University of Missouri Press (MU) to publish the 2015-2016 edition of the Blue Book. The proposal was supported by the Missouri Press Association. (HB3)

Capital improvements • Allots roughly $300 million in bonds for state building and higher education repair projects, including $40 million for the state Capitol and $35 million for a new headquarters building in Columbia for the State Historical Society of Missouri. (HBs 17, 18, 19)
School transfers • Modifies the transfer law, which allows students in underperforming schools an opportunity to attend better ones. Expands virtual, charter school transfer options. (HB42)

Municipal courts • Caps traffic ticket revenue at 12.5 percent of the operating budget for cities in St. Louis County and 20 percent elsewhere in the state. Includes other court reforms. (SB5)

Day care • Requires day care centers to establish safe sleep policies and to tell parents if centers enroll unvaccinated children. Establishes procedures for reports of juveniles with problem sexual behavior.(SB341)

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency • Provides up to $12 million in state tax-increment financing for certain areas of St. Louis to keep the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in the region. (HB514)

Pre-emption of local laws • Bars cities from passing plastic shopping bag bans or requiring private employers to provide certain benefits or wages above state mandated levels. (HB722)

Eating disorders • Requires insurance companies to cover eating disorders according to the American Psychiatric Association guidelines. (SB145)

"Right-To-Work" • Bars unions from collecting fees from nonmembers to pay for representation and other services. (HB116)

DID NOT PASS

Closing Animal Disease Traceability data• Missouri Press Association opposed the closing of animal health and environmental protection data that would have expanded the proposed Animal Disease Traceability Program information closure under the Sunshine Law. The bill was passed by the House but stalled in the Senate. (HB479)

Body cameras • Allows municipalities and cities to bar public access to footage from police body cameras. Missouri Press Association opposed both bills because they would have closed video records to the public. (SB331 and HB762)

Data in County Assessors office • Bill would restrict access to data in County Assessors office. The bill was opposed by the Missouri Press Association. (HB537)

Bingo advertising • Constitutional amendment to allow bingo games to be advertised in any manor. (Currently, organizations conducting bingo games are allowed to advertise with signs on their premises or in organizations' newsletters.) The bill, passed by the House but stalled in the Senate, was supported by the Missouri Press Association. (HJR7)

Candidates withdrawing from ballot • Specifies that if a candidate withdraws from an election within two days of the filing deadline, the deadline must be extended. The bill, passed by the House but stalled in the Senate, was supported by the Missouri Press Association. (HB533)

Missouri Official Manual (Blue Book) • Would require 5,000 copies of the Blue Book to be published by the Secretary of State for distribution to high school libraries, legislators, elected officials and members of the public. The bill was supported by the Missouri Press Association. (HB696)

Drones • Expands the crime of invasion of privacy to include the use of a drone to photograph a person without his or her consent. The bill was opposed by the Missouri Press Association. (HB931)

Red-light cameras • Puts a measure on the August 2016 ballot to ban red-light cameras across the state. (HB207)
Stadium bonds • Prohibits Gov. Jay Nixon from extending bonds for a new NFL stadium in St. Louis without a vote of the Legislature or the people and authorizes bonds for new state projects and deferred maintenance. (SB330)
Abortions • Requires a St. Louis abortion clinic to be inspected at least once annually. (HB190)

Juvenile sentencing • Repeals mandatory life sentences for minors who commit first-degree murder. (SB200)

Ethics • Imposes a $25 cap on lobbyists' gifts to legislators and require legislators to wait one year after leaving office to become lobbyists. (SB11)

St. Louis County sales tax • Allows public vote on imposing a half-cent sales tax in unincorporated St. Louis County to fund law enforcement. Changes sales tax pooling law. (SB221)

Deadly force • Updates the state's use-of-force law, which conflicts with a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying that deadly force should be used only when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect committed a violent felony or poses a serious threat of harm. (SB199)

Fuel tax increase • Increases the tax for diesel fuel 3.5 cents and all other fuel 1.5 cents above the current 17 cent-per-gallon fuel tax. (SB540)

Voter ID • Requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at polls. (HJR1; HB30)

Religious freedom • Allows student groups at colleges and universities to exclude individuals based on their religious beliefs. (HB104)

Medical marijuana • Provides for licensure of medical cannabis cultivation facilities to provide marijuana for qualified patients. (HB800)

Gay discrimination • Outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (HB407)

Police training • Requires police officers to attend a training course in diversity and a course that teaches tactics for use during unrest and peaceful demonstrations. (HB38)

Campaign contribution limits • Sets limits on campaign contributions ranging from $1,250 for House members to $5,000 for statewide candidates. (SB2)

Lobbyist gifts • Bars members of the Legislature and statewide elected officials from receiving meals, tickets and other gifts from lobbyists. (SB48)

Medicaid expansion • Expands Medicaid to low-income adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level as called for under the Affordable Care Act. (SB125)

Bullying • Changes requirements for schools anti-bullying policies and defines cyberbullying. (HB458)

Medicaid asset test • Raises the MOHealthNet asset limits for elderly and disabled persons. (SB322)

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